Board and Batten Siding

How to Install Board and Batten Siding

Years ago, my wife and I stayed in the cutest, coziest cottage in Northern California. The place we stayed in had the perfect modern-barn look and feel, with terrific traditional board and batten siding.

That trip was a big part of our inspiration to buy our own cabin. Years later, after we did buy a cabin, we couldn’t wait to add some of that same charm to our cabin by adding traditional board and batten exterior siding.

Board and batten siding is a terrific exterior siding technique. Not only does it provide the perfect rustic modern look, but it’s relatively low cost and very durable.

So if you are looking for a great alternative to traditional siding board and batten siding may be the answer, and installing board and batten siding is surprisingly straightforward and within the scope of most do-it-yourselfer’s.

Read on for a bit of background and a step by step how-to on installing exterior board and batten siding on your home or cabin.

Cottage with board and batten siding.

Our vacation cottage in Northern California with board and batten siding.

What is and How to Board and Batten

Board and batten siding has its roots in Norway and Sweden, where it was originally used to protect the exterior of log buildings. In the United States, the siding became popular on homes and barns in the West during the mid to late 1800s.

Today, board and batten siding has regained popularity in the United States do in part to the rise of modern rustic, barn-modern architecture.

So, what exactly is board and batten siding? Board and batten is a fairly simple exterior siding system of gapped wide vertical siding boards with narrow overlying vertical battens to cover the gaps. The technique is time-tested, durable, easy to repair and allows for the natural expansion and contraction of the siding material.

Board and batten siding installation on our boathouse.

Board and batten siding recently installed on our boathouse using cedar boards stained with Cabot solid color acrylic deck stain in dark slate.

While traditional board and batten siding uses wide boards and overlying narrow battens, there are multiple variations of the conventional narrow over wide technique. Reverse board and batten or batten and board, for example, installs wide boards over narrow battens.

This article describes traditional board and batten – that is, wide boards with overlying narrow battens.

Traditional board and batten siding described in layered steps:

  1. Install wide vertical boards (typically 6″ to 12″) – space 1/2″ to 1″ between boards to allow natural movement between boards and allow room for the batten fasteners to pass between boards.
  2. Install overlying battens (typically 2″ to 4″) – battens cover the gaps between the boards and hold the edges of the boards down.
Narrow battens are installed over wider boards in board and batten siding.

Narrow battens are installed over wider gapped boards. Batten fasteners pass between gaps in the boards to hold them down yet allowing for natural movement of the siding

When installing the wide vertical boards, space boards at a distance of approximately one board width (7/8″) and secure with fasteners placed at the center of the siding boards. Central fasteners allow boards to expand and contract without bowing or splitting (see diagram below).

Next, cover the gaps created by spaced boards with battens secured using centered fasteners that pass through the gaps between the underlying wide boards without passing through the boards. The battens cover the gaps of the wide boards and hold down their edges.

Batten fasteners should not pass through the underlying board edges as this would restrict expansion and contraction and risk splitting of the underlying boards.

Board and batten siding fastening diagrammed:

Diagram of board and batten siding.

Board and batten siding is made up of wider vertically installed boards with overlapping narrower battens. Nailing allows boards to move as needed.


The Nitty Gritty of Board and Batten Siding

Installing board and batten siding, or any style of vertical siding presents the challenges of fastening vertical siding boards to vertically framed stud walls.

Boards installed up and down (vertically) do not regularly intersect stud framing members like horizontally installed boards do. This issue was traditionally solved by adding horizontal framing pieces between studs called blocking.

While this method works, installing blocking is a lot of work and may be impractical for remodeling work. Blocking also reduces the space in the wall cavity for insulation and can make it hard to run wires and plumbing in walls.

Alternatively, you can use screws and fasten the siding directly to the wall sheathing if the sheathing is plywood or OSB and sufficiently thick –  1/2″ for plywood or 23/32″ for OSB. If using nails to fasten your siding and would like to nail directly into the sheathing, you will need a wood sheathing material of at least 1 1/4″ thick (like sold pine boards).

The existing original sheathing on our cabin was a dense cellulose fiberboard, limiting my options to installing horizontal blocking or removing the fiberboard sheathing and installing plywood or OSB.

I chose to remove the fiberboard and install 3/4″ plywood sheathing. The thicker plywood sheathing allowed me to fasten the board and batten siding directly to the plywood sheathing and the plywood provided a big structural upgrade for my walls.

Oriented Strand Board (aka OSB) could also be used as sheathing under the board and batten siding. OSB tends to have lower fastener holding strength compared to plywood, so if you choose OSB for sheathing, I would recommend using a thicker material – at least 23/32″ for sufficient screw holding strength.

Re-sheathing vented rainscreen wall with span rated plywood.

Exterior walls sheathed with 3/4″ plywood making the vertical board and batten siding easily to install using screws.

With the exterior sheathing upgraded to plywood, I used deck screws to fasten the siding boards directly into the sheathing, eliminating the need to hit framing studs. Screws work well and can be used instead of nails as long as the underlying plywood is of 1/2″ or greater thickness (or 23/32″ for OSB). Nails will also work, but you will need much thicker sheathing or nailing directly into blocked framing for sufficient hold.

Fastener Details for Board and Batten Siding Install
 Nails Screws
 fasten into at least 1 1/4″ solid wood (studs)at least 1/2″ plywood or 23/32″ OSB
 fastener gradeexterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanizedexterior grade – stainless, coated or galvanized 
fastener style siding: spiral or ring shank flat head coarse thread 
 fastener length (boards)siding thickness + 1 1/2″ siding thickness + 3/4″ 
fastener length (battens) batten + siding thickness + 1 1/2″batten + siding thickness + 3/4″ 


If using nails to fasten your siding, use exterior-grade nails designed specifically for installing the wood siding. Use exterior-grade ring-shank or spiral shank style nails for siding.

Nails should also be compatible with the specific wood species you are using. Some woods will react with certain fasteners causing discoloration at the fastener site. Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails are typically the best choices.

Many siding nails will have specially designed tips to help prevent the splitting of the siding. Nails will need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a solid wood substrate at least 1 1/4″.

Typical nails for one-inch thick siding are 2 1/2″ long and 3 to 3 1/2″ long for battens. Remember to add length for any material (like furring strips or rain screen mat) between the siding and sheathing.

If you use screws as I did, look for an exterior grade screw (stainless or coated) compatible with the wood species you will be using. Most deck screws will work well. I used DeckMate deck screws (green color) purchased locally from the Home Depot.

Screws need to be long enough to pass through the siding and into a suitable (solid wood, plywood or OSB) sheathing substrate of sufficient thickness. If using screws, the screws should penetrate 1/4″ or more through the sheathing. Fastener lengths can be calculated by adding the thickness of the siding boards and sheathing + 1/4″ plus the thickness of any material (rain screen membrane or furring strips) between the siding and the sheathing.

For my project, I added the following materials to determine my screw lengths:

  • 7/8″ thick siding material (1″ material)
  • 1/4″ rain screen membrane (under siding airspace membrane)
  • 3/4″ plywood sheathing
  • 1/4″ fastener penetration depth through the sheathing
  • 2 1/8″ thickness total for boards (single siding board) and 3″ for battens (double siding board thickness)

After adding the above, the recommended length of fasteners for the boards (first siding layer) was 2 1/8″ and 3″ for the battens which are stacked on top of the boards. Because the screws would be just slightly countersunk, I settled on 2″ screws for the 2 1/8″ fastener length for the boards and 3″ for the battens.

Screw Length and Size for My Board and Batten Siding Install

Siding boards: DeckMate 2″ #8 Star bit flat-head deck screws

Batten boards: DeckMate 3″ #9 Star bit flat-head deck screws

Deck screws used to install board and batten siding.

I used DeckMate deck screws to install my board and batten siding – a shorter 2″ screw for the boards and a longer 3″ screw for the battens

If you are planning on using nails, they should look something like ones below; either hot-dipped galvanized steel or stainless steel.

Hot dipped ring shank siding nails for installing cedar siding.

If you choose to use nails to fasten your siding, use hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel ring shank or spiral shank nails designed for siding.


Choosing a Material for Your Siding

Board and batten siding can be constructed from a variety of materials. Wood, engineered wood products, fiber cement boards, and polymer (vinyl) products are all suitable for board and batten. Of these, fiber cement boards and wood are excellent choices, and both have advantages and disadvantages.

Fiber cement board products (HardiePanel, etc.) have the advantages of concrete; low maintenance, long life, dimensional stability and moisture, and fire resistance.

Natural wood boards have the advantages of wood; natural beauty, the ability to take a stain, improved sound and thermal insulation and ease of cutting and installation.

Cement board products also have the disadvantages of concrete; heavyweight, difficult to cut and install, silica dust formation when cutting, and an artificial look.

Wood products have the disadvantages of wood; dimensional instability, tenancy to crack or split, need for repeat staining, susceptibility to woodpeckers, insects, and rot, and the lack of fire resistance.

I chose natural cedar for my board and batten siding. The natural beauty of wood and the durability of cedar made it an easy choice for me. Unfortunately, of late, the price of natural cedar may make this material cost-prohibitive. Other, locally milled wood species may be more cost-friendly.

No matter the type of wood you choose, all-natural wood products are susceptible to moisture and rot. While several species of wood have naturally enhanced protection against moisture and decay, most will benefit from the protection of an applied stain or paint.

If you plan to paint or stain your siding, consider finishing all six sides (front, back, and both ends) prior to installing them. Finishing only the exposed surfaces of installed siding allows moisture to the unfinished surfaces of the boards.

In addition, if you plan to use a solid color stain or paint, a base primer coat may be beneficial. Some paints and stains perform well without a primer, but even with these products, most will benefit from more than one coat of finish and/or starting with a primer coat.

Properly applied finishes take time. Applying a coat or two of primer, allowing it to dry and then applying a coat or two of finish is a long process. Not only is this time-consuming, but the quality of the finish is very dependent on the conditions, tools, products, and process used to apply any primer or finish.

So, how can you improve the quality of your finish and save tons of time? Buy your wood siding prefinished.

Yes, it may cost more (maybe), but for many of us, the time saved and the quality of the finish is worth the additional cost. I found the price of ordering prefinished fairly competitive with the cost of what I could get the unfinished wood for locally. My cost for 1″ x 10″ knotty western red cedar in mixed 8′ and 16′ lengths was less than $2.50 / lineal ft (this was late 2011, long before our trade issues with Canada)!

Locally, the price of cedar boards was very similar to the price of my prefinished material. That was in 2011 – 2012. I haven’t priced prefinished material lately, but even if it is priced a buck or so a foot more, the convenience and quality benefits may be well worth the additional cost.

Prefinished cedar boards for board and batten siding install.

A load of 10″ x 1″ x 16 ft prefinished cedar boards from Michigan Prestain ready to be installed!

It is hard to overstate just how awesome it was to receive my shipment of factory finished wood and simply start putting it up.

Ordering prefinished material saves a ton of time, and the siding is sealed with a professionally applied, factory finish. You still should prime and paint field cut ends, but that’s easy.

The supplier I ordered from also recommends a field coat of finish over the exposed surfaces after the product is installed. Again, a fairly easy step – especially when compared to painting rough cedar from scratch. The field coat of finish also seals your fasteners, enhancing the durability of the siding.

For this project, I ordered prefinished cedar boards from Cedar Shingles Direct of Wyoming, Michigan. Their factory applies a Cabot finish of your choice – for us, a latex solid stain applied over a solvent-based primer. The product was shipped via semi-trailer truck and arrived well packed, undamaged and ready to install. The quality of the finish on the wood was exceptional. I highly recommend them.

Consider Adding a Vented Rainscreen Under Your New Siding 

Prior to installing your siding, consider upgrading your exterior wall assembly to a rainscreen style wall by adding a vented air space (also referred to as an “air chamber”) to the exterior wall build. A rainscreen is a system of wall building to help control moisture within the wall assembly.

Rainscreen walls separate the weather-resistant barrier (house wrap, asphalt felt, etc.) from the siding boards allowing the wall assembly to “breathe”, and helps to prevent moisture damage and mold within your exterior walls. The rainscreen wall detail is a newer approach to help avoid water problems within walls – problems all too common with modern air-tight construction materials and techniques.

Traditional exterior wall construction, known as “redundant barrier” construction, relies on a sealed siding material and a second, “redundant” water barrier (often asphalt felt, a.k.a “tar paper”) directly under the siding. This style of wall construction worked well with older, more air-permeable home construction and was typical of residential construction for most of the last century.

Unfortunately, redundant barrier techniques coupled with newer “airtight” construction and the growing use of synthetic house wraps, is prone to water trapping and rot and mold problems. In reality, all exterior walls will eventually leak, and rainscreen wall construction techniques provides a way for them to dry when they do.

Building Walls That Dry

Rain screen wall construction originated in Norway as a method to protect exterior walls from driving rains. Walls constructed in this way not only protect the inner wall from the weather but are designed to dry out if wet.

Vented rain screen walls allow penetrated water to drain down out of the wall and air to freely flow up the cavity, drying of the wall assembly. The air space also provides a pressure and capillary break within the wall, interrupting water movement through the wall.

Building a rain screen wall system requires a bit of additional work when compared to traditional techniques, but the reward is a long-lasting, healthy exterior wall.

To construct a vented rain screen wall, simply add a vented air space between the redundant barrier – that is the weather-resistant barrier (WRB) and siding. See the layers below:

Redundant Barrier Wall Layers vs. Rain Screen Wall Layers

TRADITIONAL REDUNDANT BARRIER WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | siding

RAIN SCREEN WALL: framing | sheathing | weather-resistant barrier | vented air space | siding

The air space in a rain screen wall system is the key to the rain screen wall. This space creates a pressure break within the wall, allows water to drain and promotes air movement and drying within the wall.

This air space within the rain screen wall can be created by a variety of methods:

  1. furring strips
  2. rain screen spacer mats
  3. textured house wraps

Furring strips are thin strips of wood or other material that are installed vertically to lift the siding off the weather-proof barrier covered sheathing. Furring strips can be created using 1/4″ or thicker material cut from the sheathing, or other, or you can use one of the many manufactured products. Furring strips work well with horizontally installed siding (and therefore not well with board and batten siding). Some manufacturers create a vented furring strip intended to be installed horizontally, allowing for easy use with vertical siding.

Rain screen spacer mats provide another method of creating a vented airspace. These mats create a permeable three-dimensional mat that allows air and water to move through the mat while providing spacing between the WRB and siding material.

I used a spacer mat product by Keene called Driwall Rainscreen 020-1 for this project. The Keene product provides a 1/4″ airspace and is installed on top of your weather-resistant barrier under the siding.

In addition to helping to keep walls dry, rain screen wall construction can help protect your weather-resistant barrier (WRB). Many weather-resistant barriers degrade after exposure to certain tannins and wood extracts. Separating the WRB from the siding boards via a rain-screen wall design may help limit contact of the two.

Textured or Wrinkled House Wraps. Certain specialty house wraps are also marketed to serve as an all-in-one WRB and air space, but many will not provide the same air space as furring strips or rainscreen mats.

Keene Driwall 020 drainage mat installed on boathouse prior to board and batten siding.

Installing Keene brand rainscreen drainage mat over asphalt felt to create an air space drain plane prior to installing board and battens on our boathouse

Rainscreen wall construction using Driwall Mat by Keene.

Using the same Driwall Rainscreen Mat by Keene installed over builders felt (30# asphalt felt) before installing the board and batten siding on our cabin

A summary of the layers I used to build my exterior wall (from inside to out):

  1. 2×4 studs 16″ oc
  2. R-13 Fiberglass batt insulation 
  3. 3/4 Plywood (CDX exposure 1)
  4. 30# builders felt (roofing felt)
  5. Driwall Rainscreen mat by Keene
  6. Cedar board and batten siding


Closeup of rainscreen wall profile showing airspace created by Keene Driwall rainscreen mat.

Profile of my rainscreen wall showing layers from in to out (left to right): plywood sheathing | asphalt felt weather-resistant barrier | Keene Driwall 020-1 drainage mat | cedar board siding

Layers of exterior board and batten siding over Keene Driwall drainage plane mat.

Close up of layers of my boathouse siding showing drainage air space layer created by Keene Driwall 020-1 mat installed over asphalt felt (layers left to right: shiplap solid pine sheathing | asphalt felt | Keene Driwall mat | solid cedar board)

If you are interested in reading more about the details of building a vented rain screen exterior wall please see my article “How and Why to Build a Rainscreen Wall”.

Plan for the Install of Your New Board and Batten Siding

Once you have settled on the details of your wall reconstruction and installed the weather-resistant barrier and optional vented air space, the final task is to install the siding boards.

To install your siding, you will need sufficient access to your walls. Ladders work, but scaffolding may work better. If you can, borrow, rent or buy some scaffolding for the project. Scaffolding will give you a safe, stable platform to work from and is generally safer than ladders or ladders with planks.

In addition to material and ladders or scaffolding, you will need to gather all the necessary tools and organize your work site. For my project, I found it best to set up a few specific stations for individual tasks. Although you can install siding by yourself, as I did, a helper is great. 

To organize my work site, I had made one station for measuring, and cutting the boards, and another station for marking and starting the fasteners – I preinstalled the screws before putting the siding boards on the wall. I found having several small areas for each task allowed me to keep my tools organized and my workflow efficient.

As for your siding material, plan ahead. If using wood, your stock should have time to acclimate to your job site. And, as discussed above, I highly recommend having your siding material painted or stained prior to putting them up.

For most of my material, it was already primed and stained as I ordered it factory finished (I highly recommend doing this!). I did, however, need some additional material that I had to prime and finish myself. I used the weekends prior to the start of the install to prime, finish and allow finished boards to dry.

Then, with the material finished and ready to install, I simply prime sealed the cut ends prior to installation. After the boards had been installed, I finished the entire surface with a final field coat of finish. Read on for a step-by-step on my board and batten siding install.



How to Install Board and Batten Siding

Preparation and Materials

Board and Batten Siding – Project Overview

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Time: Days to Weeks
  • Cost: $2 – $6+ per sq ft of wall
  • Materials: Siding boards and battens, trim boards, flashing, fasteners, finish
  • Optional Materials: new sheathing, WRB, rainscreen materials

How to Install Board and Batten Siding – Project Big Picture

  1. Remove old siding, flashing and trim.
  2. Remove old weather-resistant barrier (if replacing).
  3. Remove old sheathing (if replacing).
  4. Replace sheathing (if replacing).
  5. Replace the weather-resistant barrier (if replacing).
  6. Install rainscreen mat or furring (optional, but recommended).
  7. Install skirt board and drip flashing at base of wall.
  8. Install spaced wide horizontal siding boards.
  9. Install top (frieze) and window trim boards.
  10. Install narrow horizontal battens to cover horizontal siding board gaps.
  11. Apply the final field coat of finish (optional).
Materials – Board and Batten Siding Install
ItemWhat I used
Prefinished Cedar – siding boardsPrestained Cedar 1″x10″ in Cabot Solid dark slate
Prefinished Cedar – siding battensPrestained Cedar 1″x3″ in Cabot Solid dark slate
Prefinished Cedar – trimPrestained Cedar 1″x4″ in Cabot Solid ultra white
Screws for Boards

Deckmate coated decking screws used for wide board install of board and batten siding install.

Screws for Battens
Deckmate coated exterior decking screws (3") used to install battens for board and batten siding install.

3″ coated exterior deck screws used for batten install.

Screws for Trim
White head Fastenmaster TrimTop trim screws used to fasten window trim for board and batten siding install.

Fastenmaster TrimTop white head stainless steel trim screws used for trim install.

Siding Primer
Siding Stain
Flashing Tape
Tools / Supplies for Board and Batten Siding
ItemWhat I used
Scaffold Tower
Drill / Driver
Power Miter Saw
Circular Saw
Saw Blade
Paint Brushes
Mini 6.5″ Roller
Paint Pail / Tray
Paint Tray Liners
(the best hammer!)
Tape Measure
Chalk line
Utility Knife

Additional Materials and Tools if Planning on Wall Rebuild (insulation, sheathing, WRB, rainscreen)

Additional Materials for Wall Rebuild
ItemWhat I used
InsulationOwens Corning Fiberglass insulation used with board and batten exterior wall rebuild.
SheathingPlywood sheathing 23/32" used for board and batten project.
Asphalt FeltAsphalt saturated felt (tar paper) used as weather resistant barrier for board and batten siding project.
Rainscreen Mat
Cap Nails
Flashing Tape
Framing Nailer
Framing Nails

Board and Batten Siding, How-To Step-by-Step

  1. Order Materials and Supplies, Organize Tools.

    Plan for your project by ordering the necessary materials and supplies. I ordered by cedar siding boards from Michigan PreStain. The process took several weeks and required shipping from Michigan to my site in Minnesota, so plan ahead if you will be pre-ordering material.

    Prestained boards ready for board and batten siding install.

    Prefinished cedar 1″ x 10″ and 1″ x 3″ boards for board and batten siding

    If using local material, order and purchase the material early enough to give yourself time to acclimate the material and possibly apply a coat of primer and finish prior to installing.

    Order any other materials you plan to use prior to your planned install. I used 3/4″ plywood and R-13 fiberglass batt insulation that I ordered and had delivered from my local Home Depot.

    Exterior wall construction - delivery of plywood and fiberglass insulation

    Plywood and fiberglass insulation ordered and delivered prior to beginning project

  2. Consider Prefinishing Siding Material.

    If you are not purchasing a prefinished siding product, consider painting or staining your material prior to installing it. At the very least prime the backs of the boards prior to putting them up if you plan to finish them once installed.

    Most of my material was ordered prefinished from Michigan Pre-stain, but I did need additional material that I purchased from a local lumber yard.

    For the local lumber yard material, I did pre-finish the siding by first applying a solvent-based primer coat and two additional latex finish coats. I had done this the weekend before I installed the siding, allowing it to dry prior to installing the boards.

    Painting or staining all six sides of the siding boards will provide the best protection for the boards and may help prevent negative interactions between your weatherproof barrier (house wrap, asphalt felt, etc.) and extracts and tannins from your siding boards.

    Extracts from siding boards, especially cedar, can degrade house wraps and their water resistance. Sealing the backside of siding boards can limit the amount of extracts house wraps are exposed to.

    Pre-painting of boards before install for board and batten siding.

    Battens arranged on saw horses and primed and finish coated prior to installing.

    Boards primed with Cabot Problem Solver primer prior to install.

    Boards primed with Cabot Problem-Solver solvent-based Primer prior to install.

  3. Remove Old Siding and Remove / Replace Sheathing, Weather Resistant Barrier as Needed

    First, removal old siding (if present). Use a flat shovel, flat pry bar or similar to remove old siding and fasteners. Once the siding is removed remove and replace the weather resistant barrier. You could leave the existing weather resistant barrier, but in a vast majority of cases it makes sense to remove and replace it.

    Plywood replaced old original Armstrong Temlok sheathing prior to board and batten siding install.

    Old red lapboard siding removed. Original Armstrong Temlok cellulose sheathing removed and replaced with plywood.

    Depending on the type and condition of your exterior wall sheathing, you may wish to remove and replace this as well. This is a larger job, but might be desirable if you plan to insulate the wall cavity or upgrade the sheathing for screw fastening (at least 1/2″ solid wood or plywood or at least 5/8″ OSB for screw fastening of siding boards).

    New asphalt felt installed over plywood prior to board and batten siding install.

    New #30 asphalt felt weather resistant barrier installed over plywood prior to installing Keene Driwall rainscreen mat.

    My existing sheathing was a dense cellulose sheathing marketed in the 1950’s as an insulating wall board. I removed it, added fiberglass batt insulation and closed the wall with 3/4″ plywood. I then replaced the weather resistant barrier with #30 asphalt felt (tar paper). Finally I installed Keene Driwall rainscreen mat to provide a rainscreen air space. Next, on to installing the siding.

  4. Plan Siding Install.

    With all the preliminary work completed, plan for the installation of your board and batten siding. The general order of my board and batten project was as follows: 

    Install weather-proof barrier, and rainscreen (see rainscreen wall article for more details)

     1. Install sheathing, weather-resistant barrier.
     2. Install peel and stick window flashing.
     3. Install the rainscreen spacer mat.

    Install board and batten siding and trim

     1. Install 10″ x 1″ water table (skirt board) at base of wall.
     2. Install drip flashing on top edge of skirt board.
     2. Install 10″ x 1″ vertical siding boards from top of water board drip flashing to top of wall spaced ~ 1″ apart.
     3. Install 3″ x 1″ border trim at top of siding. Top gap for rainscreen ventilation (optional).
     4. Install 4″ x 1″ window and door trim (casing).
     5. Install 3″ x 1″ vertical siding battens over siding board gaps.
     6. Install 4″ x 1″ corner trim (optional).
     7. Apply field coat of finish.

    The above is an overview of the entire process. Before putting up boards, you will first need to plan for board selection, layout, and fastener use. The next two steps will briefly discuss these issues before we begin with the siding install.

  5. Prepare for Siding Install by Planning the Board Spacing and Layout for Siding Install.

    For traditional board and batten siding, boards are installed first. These boards are spaced to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the siding material. The correct amount of spacing depends on the material you are using, but, in general, should be great enough to allow for board movement yet narrow enough to be sufficiently covered with installed battens.

    Using 10″ wide boards and 3″ wide battens for our siding, we used a ~ 7/8″ gap between boards. This just so happens to be the thickness of the 1″ material we were using, so scrap pieces of material worked well to gap the boards.

    Space boards using space piece of cedar board for board and batten siding install.

    Spacing board install with spare pieces of cedar material gives 7/8″ spacing

    When deciding how much spacing to have between the boards, consider the material you are using (wood, cement board, etc.) and the amount of expected expansion and contraction of that material. Obviously, wood will have much more movement compared to cement board.

    In addition, consider the width of the battens you would like to use. Narrower battens will obviously require a narrower gap between boards. To get an idea of the needed width for the battens, consider the main functions of the battens: 1) cover the gaps between boards 2) to hold down the edges of the boards they are installed over.

    Battens, in general, should be wide enough to cover the planned gap plus at least 3/4″ overlap on each side of the gap. For my install; a 1″ board gap plus the 3/4″ edge overlaps which equals 2 1/2″. The actual width of 1″ x 3″ lumber is 2 1/2″ – exactly the width I needed.

    So, for my board and batten siding, I used; 1″ x 3″ battens over 1″ x 10″ boards spaced 1″ apart.

    Battens are wide enough to cover gaps between boards and allow for board expansion and contraction.

    Battens cover the gaps between boards and hold down their edges. They should be wide enough to provide sufficient overlap to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the boards underneath.

    No matter what width of boards you plan to use, most do not recommend using battens that are less than 3″ nominal width (1″ x 3″ boards).

    When using 1 x 3″ lumber for the battens, the actual width of the battens is only 2 1/2″. This doesn’t leave a lot of overlap of the boards, especially if your batten boards are not very straight.

    Some warping and twists can be straightened when installing the battens, but if too much correction is attempted battens can split or crack. Most will use 1″ x 3″ or 1″ x 4″ boards for battens.

  6. Prepare for Siding Install By Planning Fastener Schedule.

    Properly installed board and batten siding is secure but free to expand and contract naturally. When installing, place fasteners in a manner that will not significantly limit the natural movement of the siding boards.

    In general, boards should be fastened near the center of their widths while the edges of the fastened boards are allowed to move. This style of fastening boards may seem contrary to traditional methods of fastened boards, with fasteners placed close to the edges of the material.

    The beauty of the board and batten system comes from the coordination of the center fastened boards and the securing overlying battens at the boards edges. The system is secure, yet still allows movement.

    Fastening boards:

    boards less than 10″ wide: use a single fastener placed at the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
    boards 10″ or wider: use two fasteners placed at the “middle thirds” position of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board
    (see below diagram below)

    Fastening battens:

    battens both 3″ and 4″ wide: use a single fastener placed in the center of the board at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the length of the board (matches pattern of boards)
    – battens should not be fastened to the boards directly, but to the underlying studs or cladding between the board gaps allowing the board edges to move freely under the battens.
    -batten fasteners should pass between the boards through the gap between them and should not penetrate or restrict the movement of the board it is installed over.

    Board and batten siding nailing pattern.

    Fasten board and batten siding by nailing the boards at the center and battens between the gaps of the boards. For wider boards use 2 fasteners and for narrower boards and battens, use 1 fastener.

    Fasten board and batten siding with nails or screws every 2' along the board.

    Fasten board and battens using nails or screws at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the board length.

    Prior to installing the boards (and battens), I recommend predrilling the pilot holes for your fasteners. Predrilling is a good idea even if you plan on using nails. A small pilot hole will help you avoid splits in your boards and help keep your fasteners in line and straight.

    To create consistent pilot holes between boards, I made a few drill jigs using spare pieces of siding material.

    Spare piece of wood used as jig to pre-drill holes for fasteners for board and batten boards.

    Spare block of siding material used as jig to guide pilot hole predrilling on ends of the boards.

    After drilling the pilot holes, I preinstalled the fasteners (screws in my case) in the holes, making it very easy to fasten the boards and battens once on the wall.

    Use a single row of centered fasteners for battens in board and batten siding.

    Use a single centered fastener for battens. Use a fastener at the top and bottom edges and every 2′ along the width. Fasteners are preinstalled into predrilled pilot holes to speed installation.

  7. Replace sheathing, Weather Resistant Barrier and Add Rainscreen System (Optional).

    If you plan to replace your sheathing, weather resistant barrier and/or add a rainscreen air space system to your wall, prior to installing your board and batten siding, please see details in my article “How and Why to Build a Rainscreen Wall“.

    This article details replacement of exterior wall sheathing, installation of a weather resistant barrier and how to add a rainscreen air space to your wall build.

    Once you have a satisfactory weather resistant barrier and rainscreen detail (if using), you are ready to begin installing your board and batten siding. 

  8. Begin Siding Install With Skirt Board (Water Table) And Drip Flashing at Base of Wall.

    For my board and batten project, I used a skirt board (a.k.a. band board, water table) at the base of my siding. I used the same 1″ x 10″ cedar material for this skirt as the boards for the siding.

    Prior to installing the skirt board, I beveled the bottom edge of the board using a 45-degree router bit to help direct water away from the wall. After running the router over one edge, I reprimed and repainted the routered edge. The boards were then installed as the water table at the base of the wall.

    Preparing skirt board for board and batten siding install.

    The same 1″ x 10″ cedar boards used for skirt board (water table) at base of wall. Router with a 45 degree bit used to bevel bottom edge of board.

    These skirt boards were installed at the base of the wall with the bottom edge (bevel sloping outward) starting just at or slightly below the level of the rim joist.

    Align bottom edge of skirt board with bottom edge of rain screen mat.

    Bottom edge of water table (skirt board) aligned with insect screen wrapped bottom edge of rainscreen drain mat (more info on rainscreen wall install)

    Of note, this is the same level as the insect screen installed at the bottom edge of the rainscreen mat. Once positioned correctly, fasten the boards to the wall with three fasteners every 18″. 

    With the skirt boards installed, set and fasten a drip edge over the skirt board. You will have options here, but I used prepainted gray metal flashing.

    Beginning install of board and batten siding using skirt board and drip edge flashing.

    Closeup of bottom detail of board and batten siding install – skirt board, metal flashing drip edge over skirt board on top of rainscreen mat.

    Boards installed first prior to battens - example on our boathouse

    Board installation on our boathouse showing skirt board, flashing and board install over Keene Driwall mat. Supervision by our french bulldog, Mangia!

    Set the flashing over the top edge of the skirt board and fasten using a few roofing nails set near the top edge of the flashing mater to limit water passage through nail holes. You will not need many fasteners, as the siding boards, once installed, will hold the flashing secure.

    While traditional flashing techniques suggest that the top edge of flashing pieces should be under the weather-resistant barrier, with the vented rainscreen wall design, I decided to install this flashing piece on top of the rainscreen mat.

    The reason I did this is to allow an uninterrupted flow of air through the rainscreen mat. If I had installed the flashing piece back to and under the asphalt felt (WRB), it would interrupt the drainage of water and flow of air through the rainscreen wall.

  9. Next Install The Siding Boards.

    With the skirt board and top metal flashing in place, begin installing the boards of your board and batten siding.

    You may start installing boards anywhere along your wall without a problem. I typically start at one corner of the wall and work across the wall. Some will begin at the edge of a window or doorway in an effort to decrease the number of difficult cuts needed.

    In general horizontal board spacing should be fairly consistent, and you can cheat a bit and vary slightly to avoid awkward cuts or very narrow boards.

    Start your board install with a single board. Set the board on top of the skirt board drip flashing gapped  slight (1/4″ or so) above the flashing to prevent water wicking up from the drip flashing. I used a paint stir stick as a spacer and rested the board on top of the stir stick prior to leveling and fastening.

    After the board is set in place, use a level to plumb the board and then drive fasteners to attach to the wall. Drive fastener heads just flat to avoid fastener divots that can hold water. Remember that fasteners should penetrate into solid wood – sufficiently thick plywood or OSB sheathing or framing (blocking).

    Boards installed spaced above drip flashing at base of wall with paint stir stick used as spacer.

    Start board install spaced above the drip flashing.

    Install fasteners at least every 2′ vertically. I started with two centered screws at the base of the boards about 1 1/2″ above the bottom of the board. This starting position allowed the fasteners to penetrate the base skirt board drip flashing. I then added a pair of screws every 2′ up the board and a final pair near the top of the boards.

    To keep fastener position uniform, I used a predrilled board jig as a guide for fastener holes. I predrilled the screw holes after cutting each board and preinstalled screws just into the boards prior to putting the boards on the wall. Once in place, you then can simply drive the preset screws in.

    Continue installing boards along the wall, cutting them as needed to fit around windows and other obstructions.

    Installing boards for board and batten siding install.

    Installing 10″ wide boards across wall with 1″ spacing. Cut boards to fit around windows with slight gap. Window trim (casing) will cover siding gaps around windows.

    Install of boards for board and batten siding on cabin.

    Another wall showing the installation of the boards

    Continue installing boards, working around windows and other obstructions. Cut boards to fit with a slight gap (1/4″ – 1/2″ or so) around windows.

    Windows should be already flashed to your weather resistant barrier prior to installing the siding.

    Boards installed around window for board and batten siding.

    Continue installing boards. Cut boards as necessary to fit around windows and doorways leaving slight gap around windows which will be covered later with window trim. Notice nails used initially to fasten siding, these were removed and replaced with screws after I decided to use screws for the siding instead of nails.

    When working boards around windows and other areas requiring cutting, you can adjust your board spacing slightly to help the boards fit better or avoid some cuts.

    Be sure to reseal the cut surfaces of boards before installing them. Notice the white primer added to the cut edge of the board bordering the right side of the window in the above image.

    Board cut to fit around window for board and batten siding install.

    Cut boards to fit around windows. Apply primer to cut edge prior to installing.

    Installing boards for the board and batten siding - use scrap piece of siding as a spacer between boards.

    Board install on the boathouse. Fastener are predrilled and in place. Use a scrap piece of the siding material as a spacer between boards, then adjust to level and fasten.

    Boards installed ready for batten install on boathouse.

    Wide Board install complete on boathouse wall. Next, apply coat of finish over the boards to seal fasteners. Once dry, install top trim, window trim and horizontal battens (window holes not yet cut out).

    Once the boards installed, I applied a quick field coat of finish. Even with prestained material, the supplier recommends a field-applied coat of finish after installing the boards.

    I could have waited until the battens were installed, but I found it much easier to use the opportunity of the flat surface of just the boards to apply a coat of finish. I used the same finish used at the factory for the prefinish; Cabot solid color acrylic stain in dark slate.

    Once the battens and trim are installed, I applied an additional coat of finish to cover battens. I found a painting pad or mini roller worked well to apply finish. Notice the image below demonstrating how the field-applied finish coat covers the fasteners on the boards prior to installing battens.

    Field coat of solid stain showing coverage of fasteners.

    Close up of boards after sealing fasteners with field coat of finish applied before the battens are installed.

  10. Install Top Trim (If using).

    Prior to installing the battens, install any trim pieces at the top or bottom of the siding install. Also install any window trim. Battens then install between the top trim piece to just above the drip edge flashing at the base of the wall.

    If the batten intersects a window, the batten installs between the top trim and the window trim.

    For my project, I used a horizontal trim piece at the top of the siding, but none at the bottom. The top trim piece is simply a batten turned and installed horizontally. I gapped the top of this trim piece slightly between the top edge and the bottom edge of the frieze board to provide top ventilation of my rainscreen wall.

    Top trim piece at top of board and batten siding install.

    Top trim piece installed at top edge of siding. Trim piece is gapped slightly at top to enhance ventilation of rainscreen designed wall construction.

    If you are installing board and batten siding over a vented rainscreen wall, you may need to design a more elaborate trim detail at the top of your walls to protect the top ventilation from rain and other elements. My top ventilation gap was well protected by my generous 12″ overhang and did not need additional protection.

  11. Install Window and Door Trim.

    Install the window and door casings at this time. There are countless window and door trim styles that can be used. I opted for a very basic butt-joined flush edge box casing for the windows and doors. I used 4″ x 1″ cedar material that I ordered pre-finished in white. I installed the trim pieces using trim head screws with white heads.

    Prior to installing the window trim, you should have properly flashed window and door penetrations. For this project I had already flashed the windows and doors using Dupont peel-and-stick flashing tape.

    See my article on building a rainscreen wall for a more detailed discussion of how to flash existing windows with flashing tape.

    Windows flashed with peel and stick flashing tape prior to installing window trim.

    Window and door penetrations should be properly flashed prior to installing trim and siding.

    Keeping with the rustic, simple theme of board and batten, I used a simple square cut boxed cashing style around the windows and doors. I left a slight gap between the cashing and window frame as a caulk gap. I did not caulk the outside edge of the window cashing adjacent to the siding. Water penetration here is drained by the rainscreen wall detail.

    To fasten the window and door trim, I used white trim head stainless steel screws. I used a pair of screws spaced along the boards. Once the trim boards were installed, I used color matched caulk between the window frame and trim edge and at the cut edge seems of the trim boards.

    Painted cedar wood trim for board and batten siding install.

    Simple, boxed flat 1″ x 4″ cedar trim for the windows.

  12. Install Battens.

    With the boards and trim pieces installed, it’s time to install the battens. When fastening the battens use a row of single centered fasteners that pass through the gaps between the boards and do not penetrate the boards. These fasteners will need to be long enough to pass 1 – 1 1/2″ into framing or the thickness of your sheathing + 1/4″ if using screws.

    Install trim and then battens for board and batten siding install.

    Install top and window trim, then battens

    For my project, I predrilled and installed screws into the battens. These preinstalled screws were preinstalled 1/2″ or so through the back of the battens to make it easier to position the fasteners in the board gaps and install the battens.

    At the bottom of the battens, consider beveling the bottom edge to help shed water away from the wall. I did this using my compound miter saw when cutting the battens. After cutting the battens, remember to reseal the cut ends with primer.

    Primer applied to seal cut ends of beveled battens.

    Bottom edge of battens beveled to shed water. Primer applied to cut ends. Fasteners preinstalled and passing 1/2″ or so through the batten.

    Prepare battens for install by pre-installing fasteners.

    Fasteners preinstalled through battens.

    Cut batten lengths to fit from the bottom edge of the top trim piece to flush with the bottom of the boards installed above the skirt board drip flashing.

    Image showing batten length from top trim piece to bottom bevel edge.

    Image showing top trim piece (which is batten material installed horizontally). Measure batten length from bottom of this piece to top of drip edge.

    When measuring batten length, keep in mind the bottom bevel of the batten, which will lengthen the batten by the amount of bevel you plan to add (I beveled my batten bottom edge 15 degrees).

    Once battens are cut to length, install them over the gaps between the installed boards. Fasteners should pass between boards passing through the board spaces without passing through boards. Use a level to plumb battens then drive fasteners to secure.

    Make sure the battens sufficiently cover the board edges on either side of the battens prior to fastening. Drive fasteners to just bring fastener heads flush with the batten surface to maximize hold and help avoid water pooling in fastener divots. 

    Align and center battens in gaps between siding boards.

    Align batten between board gaps. Center batten so pre-installed fasteners are between boards.

    Center batten between siding boards.

    Adjust batten so it is centered between boards.

    Level used to plumb batten before fastening to wall.

    Use level to plumb batten prior to fastening.

    Secure batten by driving fastener.

    Drive fasteners to secure batten. Do not over drive fastener – head should be just flush with board surface.

    Continue installing battens. When installing battens, do not caulk the lateral edges of the battens. The battens should be snug against the boards, but allow the boards to move under the batten in response to changes in humidity and temperature.

    Bottom detail of board and batten install.

    Detail of bottom of battens of recent boathouse install.

    Board and batten siding using dark gray stained cedar boards on boathouse.

    Battens, window and top trim installed over wide boards complete the siding.

  13. Install Corner Trim Pieces.

    Finally, finish the outside corners with trim pieces. For these corner boards, I used the same trim material (1″ x 4″ cedar) that I used for the windows.

    Install the corner boards butt-joined and fastened with screws.

    Cedar board and batten siding - corners finished with 1" x 4" cedar boards butt-joined.

    Corners finished with 1″ x 4″ cedar boards butt-joined.

  14. Apply Final Field Coat Of Finish.

    Although I purchased prefinished cedar for my board and batten siding project, the supplier of the prefinished material recommended applying a final field coat of finish.

    As I noted above, I applied a rolled on finish coat just after installing the boards. This coat went on very easily as the boards have a finish already applied that matches the color of this field coat. One big advantage of applying a field coat is the covering and sealing of fasteners. This was especially beneficial in covering the green deck screws I chose for this project.

    After the battens and the rest of the trim are installed, Apply another field coat of finish, mainly to cover the battens and trim. I did carry this finish onto the boards to ensure good coverage of the outside corner of the batten against the boards.

  15. Enjoy Your New Siding.


Board and Batten Siding Install Follow up

The siding was installed during the fall of 2011.

Update March, 2015

As of this year, 2015, the siding has been in service for 3 1/2 years. Other than needing the occasional cleaning with a stiff broom to remove cob webs and pine needles, our siding has been maintenance free. The siding still looks like we just put it up. The finish has no signs of age and has not chipped, peeled or failed in any way.

I have also not had any issues with the installed siding boards. None of the boards have cracked, warped or otherwise misbehaved. There has been no issues with water or signs of moisture issues on the exterior or interior of our cabin – it seems as if the combination of the vented rainscreen wall and the cedar board and batten siding are a perfect match.

If I had to do it again, I would not do anything differently. I am very pleased with our board and batten siding!

Update October 2018

OK, its been 7 years! The siding is still going strong with no issues. No paint chips, cracks or peeling. No board cracks. No fastener failures. It really still looks like I just put it up.

The rough surface of the cedar boards is loved by spiders and other caccoon-building insects. But other than the need for cleaning, the siding and the Cabot finish has held up incredibly well, especially considering the weather conditions in Northern Minnesota – hot humid summers, windy, rainy springs and falls and bitterly cold winters.

Here are a few recent photos:




Board and Batten Siding Image Gallery



  • Maddie June 2, 2020   Reply →

    Wow! This is an amazing “how to”. So well thought out and informative. You can tell a lot of time went into this post. We will be following this on the weekend on our own boathouse. Wish us luck!!

  • Khan Ozdemir July 28, 2019   Reply →


    thank you very much for your informations. I’m plannig to install the batten over a plywood directly, instead of board. Is ıt ok ? Is there any problem with this design?

  • Cindy May 25, 2019   Reply →

    Such a great how-to!!! We have a cabin, located between two creeks…so it is damp. The portion we want to add board and batten to is cinder block…how would we add to cinder block?
    Thank you!!!

    • Cabin DIY May 27, 2019   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Cindy,

      Thanks for the interesting question.

      The best solution for your goal of installing wood siding over concrete block really depends on the specifics of your project and home. In general, adding siding over concrete block presents several challenges within the following categories:

      • – Moisture and water management
      • – Insulation
      • – Fastening
      • – Product choices

      Prior to addressing specifics, it would be important to know more details about your project; is the block wall below grade, moisture concerns, is the space behind the wall conditioned, do you need to insulate the wall, and are there wall thickness matching issues for other (above) portions of the wall?

      Not knowing more about your details, it would be hard to make specific recommendations, but in general, I would recommend the following:

      • – Consider using a fiber cement siding board product instead of wood (Hardiboard vertical siding) and consider attaching directly to block with thinset or adhesive avoiding penetrating fasteners.
      • – Consider a rainscreen wall design or drain plane between block and siding product, especially if using wood siding (Rainscreen over concrete, Rainscreen wall design).
      • – Use treated 1″x3″ furring strips, treated 2″x4″ installed flat and/or treated plywood and fastener matrix prior to installing the siding. Consider using just adhesive to mount furring strips to block to avoid driving fasteners into the block or use a combination of adhesive and concrete screws or powder actuated nailing. One of the challenges of board and batten and other vertical siding is the need for a continuous horizontal nailing substrate. Horizontal furring strips provide this, but can block water movement down and out of the wall. One way around this is to install vertical furring strips first and then plywood (exterior grade, consider treated) over the furring strips. You would then have the draining benefits of vertical furring strips and a flat continuous nailing substrate (screws most likely) for the vertical siding install.
      • – Install a weather-resistant barrier under siding depending on the wall design. If using plywood like above install the weather-resistant barrier over the plywood prior to installing the board and batten siding for example.
      • – Insulate on the cold side of the wall with foil-faced polyisocyanurate foam or spray foam.
      • These are just some of my ideas on how I would consider installing board and batten siding over concrete block. Let us know what you decide to do or follow-up with additional details that I could respond to. I would research topics related to your project including masonry rainscreen wall construction techniques.


  • Stan Armes February 21, 2019   Reply →

    You have worked long and hard to make instructions that are easy to follow. Well done! The way you have pictured and described the built it is easy to say, “I can do that!”

    • Cabin DIY February 21, 2019   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Thanks Stan.

  • Kathleen Renfro September 15, 2018   Reply →

    I would like to add insulation, rainscreen, board and batten to a 1933 log cabin, and would appreciate your advise.

  • Ruth August 10, 2018   Reply →

    Thanks for your thorough article and explanations. I appreciate the historical facts too. I live in Canada and must consider 4 seasons of weather. That you mentioned Norway reassures me that B +B is a good siding for me.

    I need to replace windows too. In which order do you reccommend I do the work? Windows first or B+B first?

    Thanks, Ruth

    • Cabin DIY November 6, 2018   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Ruth.
      Sorry for the late reply, I somehow missed your question earlier.
      I love our board and batten siding. I has been problem-free since putting it in almost 7 years ago. I would recommend adding a “rainscreen” drainage plane under the siding, as I really believe it helps keep the siding healthy and the wall dry.
      Regarding your question, I would put the windows in first. You will need to flash the windows to the weather resistant barrier (house wrap, asphalt felt, etc) and this would not be practical once the siding is up.
      Good luck with your project and reply with a photo or two if you’d like.


  • Ruth August 10, 2018   Reply →

    Thanks for your thorough article and explanations. I appreciate the historical facts too. I live in Canada and must consider 4 seasons of weather. That you mentioned Norway reassures me that B +B is a good siding for me.

    I need to replace windows too. In which order do you reccommend I do the work? Windows first or B+B first?

    Thanks, Ruth

  • Harold March 23, 2018   Reply →

    Hey I love your post!
    This has answered so much for me.
    I am planning on using 12 inch boards with 3 inch battens and your detail for the skirt board and trim was so helpful.
    I do however have a high wall side and will need to use a “trim board” horizontal in the middle where the two 8 foot vertical board would meet and I am still confused. Would I have to run that horizontal board first or can I run it after the vertical boards similar to the trim for the windows? I am hoping that I can run it later because I recently had a knee injury and would like to stay close to the ground for a bit.
    Thanks again, very impressive project!

  • paul marchand December 18, 2017   Reply →

    I messed up.
    I live in Louisiana, and installed about 74 peripheral feet (42′ side and two 16′ ends) of a small residence.
    On the boards: I installed external grade screws (approx #10 by various appropriate lengths) in 10″ wide (7/8 thick) cypress boards with screws spaced approximately 19″ from top to bottom (with extra at the bottom sill and joist).
    On the battens: I used galvanized 2″ nails, alternating about 10″ left, 10″right, 10″ left etc (about 20″ between nails on the same side).
    Should I extract and start over (repairing the underlying Tyvek with tape) ?

  • Julie Myers May 13, 2017   Reply →

    For 45 years I have painted my bat and board five different times with high quality exterior latex paint and it always bubbles up and flakes off in big pieces. How can I prevent this?

  • GARY PICKENS March 15, 2017   Reply →

    Would you know the pros and cons of installing 4×8 sheets of plywood and then just placing battens over top of that?
    Gary P

    • Cabin DIY March 19, 2017   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for the question. I believe you could use exterior grade plywood as a cladding material with battens over it to give the look of traditional board and batten siding. The downside would be the durability and look of the plywood. Here is a discussion about this very topic:

      Using plywood as exterior cladding – Green Building Advisor


  • carmine faro December 16, 2016   Reply →

    Hello… As I write this (12/2016) I’m hoping this site is still up and running… I have a few questions…

    First, does the rainscreen layer extend beyond the painted metal drip edge? In other words, does the rainscreen layer reach down to match (and go behind) the bottom of the watertable board? A cross-sectional graphic would be helpful to understand the construction.

    Second, what additional guidance would you provide where a home is more than one level? My home is two stories, so understanding how to handle the install of board and battens for these long length conditions is of great interest to me.

    Third, it seems that a careful measuring and layout of how the boards (and battens) get installed on any particular elevation is important, but still, issues can remain. For instance, did you adjust the gap between the boards to accommodate the width of the exterior wall, or did you cut certain boards to accommodate the width of the exterior wall? If the latter, how many boards were cut to make the layout work and where were those cut boards installed on any particular elevation? And secondarily, what if (notwithstanding layout) the window trim partially covers or entirely covers a gap over which a batten would occur?

    • Cabin DIY December 16, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Carmine,

      Thanks for the questions. It may help to look at my article on rainscreen wall design here which includes some better diagrams of the wall build. I will respond more completely to your questions this weekend. Thanks!


  • Kenny October 4, 2016   Reply →

    Great, detailed article. We have just purchased a small lake home that has board and batten siding on the main level of the house. The house has an unfinished walk-out basement on the lake side that we are planning on finishing out this year. The outside of this basement is currently cinder block walls. About a third of the way through you article, you listed the layers of your construction:

    Here are the layers I used to build my exterior wall (from inside to out):

    2×4 studs 16″ oc
    R-13 Fibergalss batt insulation
    3/4 Plywood (CDX exposure 1)
    30# builders felt (roofing felt)
    Driwall Rainscreen mat by Keene
    Cedar board and batten siding


    In my case, where I do not have the wall studs and insulation, what would you recommend as layers for my project starting with the base layer of cinder block? I am wondering if I install the moisture barrier next to the block, followed by furring strips, then the rainscreen, and then the board and batten, if that will work. Or should I install 1/2″ plywood to the block walls, then follow your layers indicated above?

    I appreciate your thoughts!

  • Dennis September 1, 2016   Reply →

    do I caulk around windows? they are leaking from old caulk I think

    • Cabin DIY September 11, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Dennis,

      I did caulk around the windows, filling the gap between the window frame and the trim boards. I did not caulk the outer edge of the trim board to the siding.

      Here is an image of the detail on my window caulking for this project:

      Close up of window caulking detail for board and batten siding. Caulk the gap between the window frame and the widow trim board. No caulk is applied to the outside (siding) edge of the window trim.
      Closeup of window caulking detail for board and batten install - caulk inner edge between window frame and trim board. No caulk applied to outside edge of trim board.

      While caulking around the frame of the window is important, the details of your window install below the siding is probably more important. Ideally, windows should be installed in a fashion that seals the windows to the weather resistant barrier (house wrap, tar paper, etc.). Water should be able to flow down the inside of the wall and around windows without leaks.

      When windows are installed, house wrap should be cut with a shingle-like “flap” at the top of the window, and sealed to the window with specialized window flashing tape. Depending on the specifics of the window, the bottom portion of the window may be left unsealed to allow moisture to escape.

      Window manufacturers will include specific install instructions which should be referenced when installing new windows. These instructions can also be helpful in understanding the general concepts currently used for window installation. Here is an example from Anderson Windows: Anderson Window Installation Guide

  • Jesse Zamora August 9, 2016   Reply →

    I have installed hardi 4×8 sheets and 1×4 battens of hardi now I am ready to paint, do o need to caulk each batten board, of do what is the best call to use and the best paint, using brush and roller?

    • Cabin DIY August 9, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Jesse,

      You do not typically need to or want to caulk between the boards and battens. One of the main concepts of board and batten siding is to allow the boards to move under the battens, and caulk would limit the ability of the system to expand and contract. Obviously, if using Hardi board material, allow the system to expand and contract is much less important. In addition to allowing movement, an un-caulked board and batten sided wall will dry better if water gets behind the siding. It is important that you have a proper weather resistant barrier under the siding to prevent water passing into the sheathing and/or framing of the wall.


  • Liz and Ken Mitchell April 25, 2016   Reply →

    Very good and helpful information as we are learning how to put up 6inch under windows and around chimney. Thank you for putting this detailed information on here, we loved this. Liz and Ken

  • Dawn April 17, 2016   Reply →

    Can you give us an estimate on how much it cost you to reside the cabin? Roughly.

    • Cabin DIY April 17, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Dawn,

      Sure. I’ll break it down by items, some of which you may not need for your project:

      Estimated Square feet of siding coverage: 760 sq ft.

      • 23/32 exterior plywood sheathing (28 4’x8′ sheets): $600
      • 30# Asphalt Felt (4 rolls): $80
      • Keen Building products Driwall Rainscreen 020-1 (3 rolls): $550
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x10s boards 960 lineal feet: $2500
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x3s battens 960 lineal feet: $650
      • Pre-finished Red Cedar 1x3s trim 300 lineal feet: $200
      • Painted metal drip edge flashing: $150
      • Exterior screws: $150
      • Paint and supplies for field coat of pre-painted cedar boards: $150
      • Grand Total (not including tools, labor, etc.): $5,030

      So, not too bad considering I used pre-stained cedar (from Michigain Prestain). I believe the price of pre-stained cedar is a bit higher now. I would definitely recommend using pre-painted or pre-stained cedar if you can – mine has held up well and still looks new.


  • Lauren April 4, 2016   Reply →

    The cabin looks gorgeous! What paint and colors did you use?

    Thanks for the article,

    • Cabin DIY April 4, 2016   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Thanks Lauren,

      The colors are Dark Slate and White (trim) from Cabot. The stain was factory applied by Michigan PreStain.


  • Ron October 21, 2015   Reply →

    Excellent instructions on the Board and batten DYI projects. Just
    one question. I am using board and batten for siding on a chicken
    coop, can I use 5/8″ CDX for sheathing? Will it hold the screws?

    • Cabin DIY October 21, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Ron,

      Yes, when using screws generally 1/2″ or greater plywood is sufficient to provide a sound fastener base for your siding. 5/8″ CDX plywood should provide excellent hold for screw-fastened board and batten siding. Consider your project, 5/8″ should work very well.


  • Roy August 7, 2015   Reply →

    I am using 10 inch board and 3 inch batten western red cedar. Using screws to fasten boards to sheating. Some people have suggested using scews on one side of the board only for wood expansion and you show using 2 screws near the middle. Does your method allow for expansion and if I do use 2 screws, could I install the screws at the outer edge of the board so that the screws would be hidden after I install the batten over the boards?


    • Cabin DIY August 9, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Roy,

      Thanks for the question. From my reading and experience, there are many methods to fasten board and batten siding. I would guess the most important detail is to allow the batten fasteners to pass between assembled board without penetrating them. This will allow the boards to slide and move under the battens allowing for expansion and contraction.

      For my install, as you can see in the pictures, I’ve chosen to fasten the boards with two screws placed equally spaced at the center of the boards. My board and batten siding has been up for over three years without a single board bowing, cracking or otherwise failing with this fastener pattern. That said, I have read many who use the technique you describe with a fastener on a single side. Again, I suspect as long as you do not fasten both edges of the boards, a variety of method will work. Also, finishing the boards and battens on all six sides, and using dry, acclimated lumber will likely help minimize exaggerated movements of the siding boards.

      Enjoy your project and feel free to upload a few images.


  • Susan June 27, 2015   Reply →

    My builder moved on to another job and left the board and battens under a tarp in the yard for 5 months. It’s yellow pine and was cut with a band saw. Should I attempt to use it on the outside after some bleaching or use it inside after some bleaching? It was spaced and appears to be still straight, just discolored in places.

    • Cabin DIY June 28, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for visiting and thanks for the question. The decision regarding how to use the wood you have depends on many factors. From your description, it sounds like the wood was intentionally placed and set to air-dry and has been protected from rain and direct sunlight. It may be fine to use as you would like.

      I don’t think you would need to bleach the wood unless you wanted to do so for aesthetic reasons, and likely would result in uneven color and tone if you used it just to remove the discoloration in places. Also, the time required to bleach the wood properly – sanding, bleaching, drying – might not be worth it depending on the amount of wood you would need to treat.

      If you have access to the mill that cut the wood, I would contact them and ask for suggestions. For board and batten siding (and any siding), using properly dried wood is preferred and will result in less movement and possible twisting of the boards as the dry and equilibrate with the environment. For your boards, if stacked and set up properly, they should be near dry and likely ready to use.

      Here is a link to some further information regarding drying wood from WoodMagazine.com: drying wood fresh cut wood


  • Amy May 16, 2015   Reply →

    Thanks so much for sharing such a detailed post on your siding installation!

    I’m building a tiny house down in Georgia and would like to install board and batten on the lower part of my wall. However, we used 1/2″ plywood to sheath the exterior (as well as 3/8″ plastic furring strips for the rainscreen). It seems a little unclear to me on whether we could move forward with the board/batten installation if we chose not to install blocking behind the plywood, and used screws. Any further thoughts on the matter?

    • Cabin DIY May 17, 2015   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Amy!

      From my reading (and experience), you can install vertical siding boards – like board-and-batten siding – using screws into 1/2″ plywood sheathing.

      Here is a recommendation from the excellent building publication Fine Homebuilding:

      You can also use plywood sheathing ( 1/2 in. or
      thicker) as a substrate for the siding (and thereby
      skip the blocking) if you attach the boards and
      the battens with screws. Screws should extend
      at least 1/4 in. beyond the inside face of the sheathing…

      John Birchard. Installing Board-and-Batten Siding. Fine Homebuilding 75 pp 52-56. July 1, 1992.

      Remember to use exterior grade screws and beware some galvanized screws can discolor cedar and other natural woods. I used coated deck screws for my project and have had no issues with discoloration.

      Structurally the screws have performed very well since we installed them.

      Good luck with your home build! Please feel free to reply with a photo of your board and batten project.


Leave a comment